People: Media magnate Rupert Murdoch insists his empire is not that powerful

Rupert Murdoch

Associated Press

Rupert Murdoch

News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch said Wednesday that his globe-spanning TV and newspaper empire doesn't carry as much political sway as is often believed, telling a British inquiry into media ethics that he wasn't the power behind the throne often depicted by his enemies.

Murdoch sought to deflate what he described as myths about his business, his agenda and his friendships with those at the pinnacle of British politics.

"If these lies are repeated again and again, they catch on," he said. "But they just aren't true."

The 81-year-old media baron denied ever calling in favors from British leaders and dismissed the oft-repeated claim that his top-selling daily, The Sun, could swing elections.

"We don't have that sort of power," he testified.

Murdoch was being quizzed under oath before an inquiry examining the relationship between British politicians and the press, a key question raised by the phone hacking scandal that brought down Murdoch's News of the World tabloid in July.

Murdoch said he has spent "hundreds of millions of dollars" on the legal fallout of the hacking allegations and on cleaning up his newspapers to make sure such lapses didn't happen again.

"I failed. And I'm very sorry about that," Murdoch said, adding: "It's going to be a blot on my reputation for the rest of my life."

Redford promotes prince's film

American Hollywood royalty teamed up with British royalty as Robert Redford appeared in London to promote a documentary on Prince Charles' latest environmental projects.

Redford praised the heir to the British throne, speaking Thursday at the launch of the first-ever Sundance film and music festival.

He says Charles "has been committed for a long time, which I greatly admire, to sustainability and environmental conservation" and said working together "seemed like a natural fit."

Sundance London host Saturday's royal premiere of "Harmony: A New Way of Looking at Our World." The documentary maps out three decades of environmental work by the prince.

Apology for auctioned internship

A member of a Los Angeles synagogue apologized Thursday for offering an internship in a U.S. senator's office as part of a charity auction that the founder of "Girls Gone Wild" says he won.

Chad Brownstein said he didn't get Sen. Mark Pryor's permission to list the internship, and he apologized to Pryor, D-Ark. A day earlier, Pryor asked the FBI to investigate who offered it in the auction benefiting the Wilshire Boulevard Temple.

"Girls Gone Wild" founder Joe Francis says he won the internship in the auction and had planned to include it in a prize package for his TV contest, "The Search for the Hottest Girl in America."

Today's birthdays

Actor Jack Klugman, 90; actress Anouk Aimee, 80; announcer Casey Kasem, 80; singer Cuba Gooding of the Main Ingredient, 68; singer Ann Peebles, 65; singer Kate Pierson of The B-52's, 64; guitarist Ace Frehley (Kiss), 61; singer Sheena Easton, 53; singer Jim James of My Morning Jacket, 34.

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